Ingham County declares racism a public health crisis amid national unrest, pandemic

Representatives establish advisory board to address racial injustice in Ingham County

Tiana Day wears a mask that reads I Can't Breathe before speaking in San Francisco, Saturday, June 6, 2020, at a protest over the Memorial Day death of George Floyd. Floyd died May 25 after being restrained by Minneapolis police. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (Jeff Chiu, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

LANSING, Mich. – The Ingham County Health Department Tuesday declared racism a public health crisis amid statewide and national unrest over the killing of Black Minneapolis man George Floyd.

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Floyd was killed by a now-former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while he was in police custody, handcuffed and laying on the ground.

The Ingham County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to declare the public health crisis and establish an advisory board to offer solutions that address racial injustice, officials said.

“Racism is rampant across the country and Ingham County needs to be on the forefront in anti-racist action,” said Bryan Crenshaw, Chair of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. “By naming racism a public health crisis, we begin to address it head on and send the message that status quo isn’t good enough for our residents.”

According to the announcement the commissioners will especially prioritize addressing racial disparities in health care amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the virus.

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“People of color are disproportionately affected by infant mortality, maternal mortality, diabetes, asthma, hypertension and even COVID-19,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “This has nothing to do with biology. Health disparities are the effect of a lifetime spent enduring racism in all of its forms, which compounds as it spans generations. I deeply appreciate the Board of Commissioners for hearing and responding to a call to action from myself and our community led by Black Lives Matter-Lansing.”

Click here to view the Ingham County Health Department’s full resolution.

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About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.